Some initial thoughts before I get into my predictions. The Lakers turning off the heat during the last few weeks may come back to bite them in the butt. I think they looked at the schedule and knew no one in the West could catch them for the #1 seed and I think they looked across the nation to Cleveland and realized they wouldn't catch Cleveland for the #1 overall seed so they went into coasting mode. However, the Orlando Magic snuck right in under their noses and secured the #2 overall seed which means that if the Lakers make it to the NBA Finals against Cleveland or Orlando, they do not have home court advantage.
Next, the Utah Jazz. What a disappointment last night against Phoenix. A win changes the whole face of the Western Conference playoffs. If the Jazz when they would have secured the #3 seed and had home court against a Brandon Roy-less Portland Trail Blazer team. Instead, they slide to the #5 seed, lose home court and have to play a veteran Denver Nugget team who has owned them all year long. It could have been Phoenix vs Denver first round (which would have been an amazing series). Unreal.
Lastly, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Charlotte Bobcats and the Milwaukee Bucks are in the playoffs...really, they are.
Let me say, I don't anticipate any upsets this season. If the #5 Jazz beat the #4 Nuggets, is it really an upset anyways? Truth be told, the best upset opportunity in the 1st round in Kevin Durant single-handedly beating the Lakers. Not going to happen in a 7 game series but they may put the Lakers to the test. My biggest "shocker" is that I think the Magic will once again slap down LeBron James and the Cavs and advance to the NBA Finals.
1st Round, Eastern Conference:
#1 Cleveland Cavs vs #8 Chicago Bulls - Cavs win in 5.
#2 Orlando Magic vs #7 Charlotte Bobcats - Magic win in 4.
#3 Atlanta Hawks vs #6 Milwaukee Bucks - Hawks win in 5.
#4 Boston Celtics vs #5 Miami Heat - Celtics win in 6.
1st Round, Western Conference:
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs #8 Oklahoma City Thunder - Lakers win in 6.
#2 Dallas Mavericks vs #7 San Antonio Spurs - Mavs win in 5.
#3 Phoenix Suns vs #6 Portland Trail Blazers - Phoenix wins in 5.
#4 Denver Nuggets vs #5 Utah Jazz - Nuggets win in 6. (Note - This is my prediction to be the best 1st round series)
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:
#1 Cleveland Cavs vs #4 Boston Celtics - Cavs win in 6.
#2 Orlando Magic vs #3 Atlanta Hawks - Magic win in 6.
Western Conference Semi-Finals:
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs #4 Denver Nuggets - Lakers win in 6.
#2 Dallas Mavericks vs #3 Phoenix Suns - Mavs win in 7.
Eastern Conference Finals:
#1 Cleveland Cavs vs #2 Orlando Magic - Magic win in 6.
Western Conference Finals:
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs #3 Phoenix Suns - Lakers win in 7.
Orlando Magic vs Los Angeles Lakers - Lakers win in 6. You didn't really think I'd pick against the purple and gold, did you?